Don’t Shoot the Second Arrow!

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Don’t Shoot the Second Arrow!
I recently learned a great question that’s reducing my need to complain or suffer, and I want to share it with you:

“Do you really need to shoot the second arrow?”

If you’ve ever had something upsetting or disappointing happen, and then you complain, rage, or otherwise wish things were different, read on for relief.

I was walking out of a lovely evening of yoga and chanting. “I’m so excited about an upcoming yoga class next week,” I beamed to my friend, Beth.

“It’s been cancelled,” Beth replied, in a very matter-of-fact way. Since she’s part of the organization that organizes the yoga, she had her pulse on the schedule.

“Damn!” I shouted. “Why does this have to be cancelled? I was looking forward to going! Now what am I supposed to do next Saturday night?” I sighed and then continued. “I hate having to reschedule. I had my hopes set on this. This sucks! Who cancelled it?”

Another woman overheard me moaning and complaining to Beth. She cocked her head in a playful way and gently asked, “Do you really need to shoot the second arrow?”

I furrowed my brow. I felt a mixture of confusion and curiosity as I asked, “What’s a second arrow?”

Apparently, the Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. The first arrow is the actual bad event, which can can, indeed, cause pain. The second arrow is the suffering. That’s actually optional. The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event. It’s the manner in which we chose to respond emotionally.

The concept of the second arrow immediately hit home for me.

A day later, I arrived at my beloved Sunday morning moving meditation practice to dance. Uncharacteristically, the floor of the gym felt as if it was covered in sawdust. Due to an unforeseen circumstance, the setup crew couldn’t sweep that floor beforehand. My bare feet felt little nubs of dirt and dust. I started to turn up my nose. But then I just remembered, “Do I really need to shoot the second arrow?”

No. I didn’t need to shoot the second arrow.

If I had shot that second arrow, I’d just be shooting myself in the foot. I’d be whining and looking around for other people to commiserate with. I’d be carrying around frustration. That second arrow is poisonous.

So instead of shooting the second arrow, I just danced. Happily.

Sure, sometimes I noticed clumps of dirt, or little scraps of paper on the floor. Honestly, I just told myself, “It is what it is.” If I’d really wanted to get a rag, I could’ve cleaned the floor. But the dirty floor wasn’t a game stopper. In fact, later, I found out that a few people who get really sweaty feet found that the dirt actually helped them to avoid slipping.

Me? I danced on the dirty floor. Then, I simply washed my feet afterwards. No extra arrows required.

So, how do you avoid shooting the second arrow?

First, you have to notice the first arrow. So when you’re in emotional pain, feel it (especially the sensations of it). I faced the emotional sting of a dance floor that didn’t meet my usual cleanliness and comfort standards. I felt the arrow — in this case, of dirtiness — on my feet. You might notice your arrows as emotional pains, physical pains, irritations, or frustrations.

Second, you need to catch your impulse to add another arrow. Maybe you want to yell at someone. Or complain. Or look for someone to blame. Just become aware and notice your reaction. It’s usually a desire to lash out or to somehow discharge energy. Complaining, for example, is pushing out the frustration and dissipating it, instead of just acknowledging the first arrow. It’s actually fine if you shoot the second arrow. You can take it back, later.

Third, ask yourself, “Do I need to shoot the second arrow?” You can ask this either before you shoot the second arrow, or just after it’s been shot. The point is to catch yourself adding more pain. That’s really more energy that doesn’t need to be added.

Fourth, pat yourself on the back for catching yourself, either before or right after shooting the arrow. You’re learning a new pattern of response. You’ll be able to free up more energy for situations that you can control. But you can always adjust your reaction, even if you can’t control what happens to you.

What sensational shifts will you make by not shooting the second arrow?

How do you use this at work? With your family? In traffic? In any stressful situation?

I’d love to hear from you about what you will avoid — or what you will deliberately change. What happens when you ask yourself, “Do I really need to shoot the second arrow?”  Share your story or insight here. I promise to acknowledge you. (I won’t shoot any arrows at you, I swear).

Do You Want to Be a World Changer?
There are several ways that you can be one that changes the world we live in, and you have it within you right now.

Everyone seems to think that for change to occur, it has to be something outside of us that needs to happen. That only someone greater than yourself can really make a huge difference in the world. The people that have made a change, the Oprahs, Mother Theresas and the Martin Luther King Jrs. of our time, they did it because they believed that there was something great that they were here to do.

And what it came down to was a vision of a better world. A greater vision than what they were living and experiencing in their life.

Did they create it all at once? No, they were clear that there was something that they needed to do and share, and all they did was follow guidance and took the very next step. They constantly moved forward, and each action, cemented their vision. Each person that they touched, created a change in their being. Each step that they took, created a shift in another. As they shifted each other, consciousness also shifted.

Just like these world changers there are many, many more that are making a difference in the world. They live all around you. They follow their heart, they are clear on their values, and they start by taking small steps. They build momentum, and a shift begins to occur.

The universe does this gorgeous dance with you. You take a step and the right people, opportunities and creations are brought towards you. The universe will always show you who you are being right now. Believe in yourself, and the universe will reflect it back to you. Play small and that too will be given to you.

It is all up to you. You have an awesome power within you. What are you going to use it for?

I know that you have had that feeling within your heart that there must be something more. Somewhere inside of you, you know how special you are. There is only one of you here, and you are present at this time and place for a reason. You have a purpose, and it is greater than you believe right now. You came here complete.

You have everything within, and this place that we call Earth, is here for you to self-discover. It is not here to be wasted on the mundane. It is here to heal, love and express your talents. Your gifts are not just for you, they were given to you to share with others. Your heart is the intelligence that you need to tap into.

We have been told to follow our heads, our minds. But you are not just the thoughts that you think, you feel what is good or bad. How many times have you been in a situation and your body senses that it is just wrong, or you don’t agree with decisions being made. You can feel it up and down your spine. Every cell knows it. And yet your mind will say, “Oh well, there’s not much that I can do about it,” or, “this is just the way it is.” And we override what we know to be true.

Intelligence is in the heart. It will tell you what it is you need do next. There are certain things that you are drawn to, things that you absolutely love! And there is a reason for that. And the reason is, that if you follow what has already been placed within your heart, it will connect you to the right people, situations and your dreams.

There is something that you are here to be and do. Each one of us has a purpose! Are you doing what you came here to do?

The hints are in these questions:
What is it that you love?
What experiences have you been through?
And what makes you crazy and mad all at once?

Allow your life experiences to show you who you came here to be. Life has had you in training up until now. So all that you have experienced is perfect for you to now go out and share a very clear message. It is only you that has been in those situations. Only you have the qualities, ideas and potential that are unique to you.

The world is waiting on you! And your voice matters. What you feel strongly about, is your heart tugging at you to make a difference. You may be one voice, but your voice becomes a roar when you inspire others to share with you.

Hey World Changer:

Choose one thing that you feel strongly about, something that you would like changed in the world. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and then leave me a comment down below so we can support you too. Inspire and educate us to create change with you too.

It is Done.
In One, In All, In Love.
Maria Portas.

See how individuals are making a difference in our world at HuffPost Impact.

Get more Inspired Insights here.

Words Matter (If You Want People to Listen!)
Words matter. Our society’s beliefs about substance abuse and compulsive behavior problems — and the potential for change — are built into the words we use to speak about these issues. The way we use certain words reflects and conveys our deeply held beliefs and attitudes. Why does our word choice matter when it comes to talking about substance use problems? Because unfortunately, the ingrained attitudes and feelings about substance use disorders at present are not positive and are mostly grounded in pessimism, skepticism, misunderstanding and fear.

Words like “addict,” “abuser” and “alcoholic” are widely used indiscriminately to describe people who struggle with substance use issues and are laden with negative connotations for much of the culture. As a psychologist who treats substance use disorders I usually discourage my clients and their families from using these words to describe themselves or their loved one. I do this for a variety of reasons.

First, these words over-generalize and tend to whitewash important details about the people they describe. As they’re commonly used, they are labels that lump together an incredibly diverse group as if they were all the same. They completely blur the reality that people struggling with substance use problems have dramatically different levels of problem, have the problem for different reasons, have different prognoses, and will take a variety of paths with their relationship to substances moving forward. People who use substances are more diverse than they are similar. When you refer to someone struggling with a substance use disorder simply as an addict or alcoholic, you are at risk of losing sight of all the distinctions and variations that matter tremendously. Additionally, it is highly likely that your audience is making a variety of automatic assumptions based on what the words mean to them. While you may mean something very specific when you use the word, the person listening to you may have very different ideas (and you can almost always assume not good ones).

You don’t have to dig very deep to hear the negative connotations attached to these words (e.g., lazy, weak-willed, failing moral compass, diseased). In fact, it is not uncommon for them to be used as an insult. The easiest way to confirm this for yourself is to listen to the tone of voice that most people use when they refer to someone as “an addict.” There is more often than not a tone freighted with toxicity, denigration, suspicion, and as a result stigma.

Stigma is the second reason I ask people to be thoughtful about these words. Research has shown us that fear of stigma is one of the main reasons people resist seeking help. Studies have found that even professionals in the field are at risk for having the negative connotations associated with these words creep into their work. John Kelly, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a leader in the addiction treatment field, conducted a survey of health professionals who were asked to answer questions about a hypothetical patient who was described as either a “substance abuser” or as “having a substance use disorder.” They found that referring to patients as a “substance abuser” resulted in more negative attitudes and assumptions about the patient. Specifically, the health professionals were more likely to agree that the client should be punished for not following a treatment plan and that their “character” was culpable. The study concluded that the choice of language was related to increased stigmatization.

Similarly, studies have found that when treatment providers refer to clients as “alcoholics,” they are at risk for making negative assumptions that potentially effect how they treat the people they are supposed to be caring for. Terrie Moyers, a psychologist at CASAA in New Mexico who is one of the leaders in motivational treatment approaches, conducted research with substance abuse counselors and examined attributes these counselors attached to the label “alcoholic.” She found that associated with this label were the beliefs that “alcoholics are liars,” “cannot make good decisions for themselves,” “have personality deficits that predate drinking,” have special “spiritual deficits,” and “need strong confrontation.”

The final problem I have with using these labels to describe a person with a substance use problem is that people try to explain things through the use of these words. How many times have you heard people say “well, he’s an addict, what did you expect”? In my work, I often hear clients say “I’m an addict, that’s what we addicts do,” or “yeah, over the holidays I started to withdraw more… but that’s me being an alcoholic.” Typically, what people are describing in these discussions are behaviors that the rest of the non-substance abusing world is likely to share in as well (lying to avoid conflict, hiding out when overwhelmed). The difference is that non-substance users don’t explain their behavior by saying “I’m an addict.” Referring to someone else or one’s self as an “addict” seemingly explains a lot of behaviors neatly and under one heading. And the problem? When you explain things with false evidence, the real answers sneak out the back door. For example, “I’m an addict” is not a helpful explanation of why I lie a lot. Instead, I may have gotten into the habit of lying because I am ashamed or embarrassed or I got hit as a kid when I expressed myself. These are real reasons why the lying habit forms, not a reflection of an innate addict character trait. For this reason I DO stop clients from saying “I’m an addict” as an explanation for their behavior, because there is nothing to be learned from this labeling.

While I point out all these “label” problems, I know that there are many people who find connection when self-identifying as an addict/alcoholic and find immense comfort in being part of a community who relates to these words. In the context of the 12-step community, identifying as an addict or alcoholic can be a powerfully positive act. It is crucial to note however, that it is an act of choice. Calling oneself an addict is very different than being called an addict by someone else.

The fortunate news is that words are hugely powerful mediators of positive change. Some of our most successful treatments (e.g., Motivational Interviewing) are predicated on use of language by the therapist that is non-confrontational, respectful, conveys a sense of collaboration, and demonstrates empathy and understanding of the other person… all with words! Additionally, this approach places a lot of emphasis on facilitating certain language from the client, called “change talk,” that has been demonstrated to predict positive change. So our language matters, and the language of the person we are trying to help matters.

From the perspective of cultural ease, I understand the pull to find one-word explanations, especially in our current world of sound bites. But the reality is that labeling anyone with a substance problem as an “addict,” “alcoholic” or even “substance abuser” does stigmatize them in the real world, pushes too many people away from the help they need and want, and makes generic a problem that is profoundly complex. We cannot escape the reality that stigma is conveyed by word choice: once spoken, the genie cannot go back in the bottle. And while you may not feel anything negative about these words and may in fact relate to them deeply, it is important to not minimize the stigma they may carry for the person you are talking with. For example, many a well-intentioned therapist may say something like “I’m glad you’re here Mr. Smith, and it’s important that you’ve recognized you are an alcoholic.” The potential internal dialogue of someone who just got this message? “I thought I was just drinking too much in the evening(!) Maybe this isn’t the place for me… I’m not a drunk so should probably just try to deal with this on my own.” While the alternatives are awkward and far from a sound bite, phrases such as “substance user” and “person with a substance problem” are more accurate and less at risk for pushing a person away from change. The scientific evidence is clear… words matter. They can open doors to change and expand our perspectives or they can set up barriers and roadblocks to understanding… I for one would like to keep them open.

Dr. Carrie Wilkens is the co-founder and clinical director of the Center for Motivation and Change. Dr. Wilkens specializes in motivational treatments and group psychotherapy, and has worked with traumatized populations in both individual and group modalities. She is most recently a co-author on the new book Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change, a compassionate and science-based family guide for navigating the addiction treatment world, understanding motivation, and training in the use of CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) skills. Dr. Wilkens’ expertise is regularly sought by the CBS Early Show; Fox News; Newsweek; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Psychology Today.

You can follow Dr. Wilkens on twitter (@CWilkensPhD) and you can follow the Center for Motivation and Change on twitter (@_TheCMC) or on Facebook (

Subliminal hypnosis: sports hypnosis, weight loss hypnosis, mental health hypnosis, and 40 different topics hypnosis at, full catalog photo 2163_zps044fb03b.jpg


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